The Oxford Statement

Organisers of one of the Council’s most significant conferences to date, the 2nd International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training, have published a statement capturing current practice in the sector. 

The Oxford Statement

Dr Douglas Halliday (Conference Chair & UKCGE Treasurer), and Gill Clarke (University of Oxford & UKCGE Vice Chair) have developed the Oxford Statement” to reflect discussions at the conference and capture key emerging themes in the sector. Delegates who attended the meeting also had chance to endorse the statement.

Dr Halliday said,

The Oxford Statement has been developed as a useful summary from the conference and has subsequently been endorsed by a significant number of conference delegates. Our hope is that the statement will be a useful output from the conference that will offer conference delegates a resource to use in discussions at their respective institutions as they continue to develop doctoral programmes.”

The statement:

Doctoral qualifications represent the highest level of academic achievement; they are awarded to those who have completed an individual programme of original research. One of the principal purposes of the doctorate has been to provide the next generation of academics. Recently, however, the relatively few academic jobs available combined with growing numbers of doctoral graduates has led to the doctorate becoming a qualification that prepares graduates for a wide range of employment opportunities, with only a small proportion now entering academia. As creators of new knowledge, new insights and new approaches, doctoral award holders are highly intelligent, highly skilled and extremely versatile. It is recognised that such individuals can successfully enter a broad range of careers. Doctorate holders make a substantial contribution to the skilled workforce essential for the knowledge economies of the 21st century; this should be fully recognised and communicated widely. Those responsible for managing doctoral programmes must continue to ensure that career choices are clearly promoted to doctoral candidates. Growth in the numbers of doctoral candidates worldwide is seen as a positive development. This growth has been accompanied by an increasing diversity in the doctoral population and the development of different types of doctorates, including those linked to professional practice. Key to successfully supporting such diversity is to ensure the complementarity of research and transferable skills training and ensuring flexibility for individual candidates. Many jurisdictions have developed a more structured approach to the initial training and preparation offered in doctoral programmes. This is seen as beneficial, provided that the training is relevant to the immediate and longer term needs of doctoral candidates. Cohort approaches have also been introduced, encouraged in the UK by Research Councils and other sponsors; these have also provided wider benefits for doctoral candidates. Some of the most successful doctoral programmes are offered in environments specifically designed to support original research, which include new approaches to supervision and multiple sources of support for candidates. Institutions should continue to develop new approaches to supporting doctoral candidates, and their supervisors, preparing candidates for future employment and also ensuring timely completion. In conclusion, it was suggested that new doctoral training models should continue to be evaluated for effectiveness – are they delivering for both universities and candidates? And are such models sustainable given the current background of austerity in public funding?’

The 2nd International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training (ICDDET) took place at the University of Oxford’s Examination Schools during March 2015 and brought together over 140 delegates from 16 countries all over the world. The 3rd International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training has been scheduled for Spring 2017.

The Oxford Statement with signatories

Link to 2nd International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training

Image above right: The Randolph Hotel in Oxford.